littleBits kits are right in the middle of STEM movement and Maker movement by fulfilling both goals very well. littleBits is an open source library of electronic modules. The modules are the building block of littleBits, just like a brick in LEGO set. These modules achieve different purpose like power (blue), input (pink), wire (orange), and output (green), all color coded for easy identification and sequencing while building larger circuits. littleBits modules snap together using strong magnets on either side of it. Forget about soldering, you don’t even need wiring to worry about. It makes learning electronics fun at the same time it is powerful enough to create your own prototypes. littleBits have won lots of awards since its inception from Popular Science, Crain’s , Maker Faire and others.
Different modules are also called Bits that are built on tiny circuit board for a specific purpose such as light, sound, sensors, buttons, thresholds, pulse, motors, etc. With magnetic snapping of these Bits, there is no chance of you connecting anything incorrectly; magnets only snap if they are held in right direction. You don’t even need programming to get started. Just take out the Bits from kit, snap it together in order of power - input - output (color coded), and you are all set. The biggest advantage of this modularity of Bits is that you can start with Base kit and add other Bits/modules that achieve specific function for your new project independently. You don’t have to buy entire new kit to get just one module. So your library and projects grow, as you like.
littleBits comes in various kits containing different combination of modules. A good place to start is littleBits Base Kit . It is an introductory kit aimed at kids who are just getting started with littleBits. The Base Kit comes with:
Base Kit key module is DC Motor. It also includes the motorMate, an accessory that makes it easy to attach wheels and other stuff to the motor to make windmills, cars, helicopters etc. Light Sensors works in light and dark mode, detecting more light or more darkness, as you want to adjust the module. It goes for Buttons, Dimmer, Buzzer etc. modules. Just put them in right sequence of Power (e.g. Battery cable) - Input (e.g. Button) - Output (e.g. Buzzer) and you are all set. Just with 10 modules of Base Kit, you can build staggering 150,000 possible circuit combinations.
littleBits has a growing community all around the globe that comes up with some really wacky and cool ideas turned into projects with littleBits kits. You can always find something new to build on community page of littleBits.
littleBits has also come up with cloudBit for a true internet of things experience. The cloudBit acts as an input by receiving signal from your littleBits circuit and sending it to the Internet. Club it with sites like IFTTT and make your own alarm, anytime someone activates littleBits sound trigger at home, cloudBit together with IFTTT can send you a tweet or text message on your phone, wherever you are.
littleBits is really taking it to next level with their bitLab. As they call it, it’s an app store for hardware. You submit your ideas, get it voted by community, and you have your idea as a littleBit module in the market.
You can buy each littleBits module separately, but it comes pre-packaged as kits built for specific purpose or simply with more modules for more possibilities. Here is a quick run down on some of the popular kits from littleBits. The recommended minimum age for some of these kits are different than base kit, please check recommended age before buying.
littleBits Delux Kit : This is the biggest kit you can buy of the shelf with 18 modules. You can build some really complex projects with this kit.
Smart Home Kit : Welcome to Connected Home. Automate with IFTTT to connect with any web service, like Facebook, Gmail and Twitter, or hardware like NEST and Phillips HUE etc.
cloudBit Starter Kit : cloudBit starter kit for a Smart Home on a budget.
Arduino Coding Kit : Want to add Arduino sensors and program something really cool without worrying about too much circuitry? Here is the kit built just for you.
Synth Kit : This one is for the music enthusiast. littleBits and KORG together made this kit to help you make modular synthesizer and create music.
littleBits does a great job of getting something from idea to prototype in fastest possible time. It’s not just for kids but also for grown ups. One disadvantage of the simplicity is that kids don’t really get to learn underlying concepts of electronics unless they explore the online guide and open source circuitry. It’s just too easy to make things.
For younger kids of age 8 years to 10 years, you may want to start with some of the other electronics kits that actually get deeper, like may be Snap Circuit.
Nevertheless, it makes a great companion for elder kids who are already interested in electronics and in general idea of making things. littleBits are a great way to try out new things or build some complex school and college projects, or mix it up with 3D printing and come up with next big innovation.
STEM is acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in education. There is a growing need to integrate all these subjects so that students can better understand real-world application of these subjects. Learning through experience creates a lasting effect and produces better result. STEM toys and activities encourages kids to develop STEM skills in fun and creative way. Today you have a lot more options to choose from than ever before. Our mission is to help you find the right resources for yours kids so that you can play the most important role in the foundation of STEM's future, that of a parent.